Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Rorschach Peas

I continue on my Indian/Curry cooking jag, inspired by Madhur Jaffrey and her cookbook, "From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail."  Tonight it was a Malaysian lentil curry (no photographic evidence of that, unfortunately...).

Everything I've made from that cookbook (4 recipes and counting) has turned out well. Last Sunday I decided to try a black-eyed pea (she calls them 'beans' in the book) curry seasoned with curry leaves and dill. I hadn't been planning on it, but while at the Foreign Food Mart in Itaewon I noticed they had some packs of dill (why didn't they have it when I needed it for my Thanksgiving rice dish? Oh well...) and decided to make it for lunch on Sunday. It was the dill that I was hesitant about...but it turned out to be one of the best curries that I've ever made, and one of M.'s favorites.

Also, happily, it was via this dish that I discovered the frozen limes in my freezer (brought to us from a friend coming back from an unnamed tropical location) were salvageable after all, and I didn't have to use the suggested lemon substitute (which I think wouldn't have been as good).

I served it with tomato rice, as she suggests, although without an oven I couldn't bake it and had to, instead, stir-fry the rice with the tomato-garlic sauce before serving. It was a great combination: The dill and curry leaves blended together beautifully to create a wonderful tang, and the milk (my yoghurt “substitute”) added a bit of creaminess. It was a bit watery, but this allowed for plenty of rich, delicious broth. The comforting tomato-garlic rice balanced the bold flavors of the peas.

It took a bit more time than I anticipated – even though I soaked the peas last night, they still took double the time she indicates to cook (2 hours instead of 50-60 minutes) – but the results were well-worth it. South Asian peas and rice! I could live on the stuff. (I'll post the recipe tomorrow; too good not to share).

A note on the ingredients: I got the dill and dried curry leaves at the Foreign Food Mart in Itaewon (where you can also get plain Denmark yoghurt in individual containers like they have at Costco; not sure why I didn't buy any at that time...). I was delighted to read in Jaffrey's headnote that she recommends Korean coarse-ground red pepper powder (gochu karu 고추가루) – something you can get in any supermarket here! If you can't get the Korean version, she recommends cayenne pepper as a substitute. 

A final note: M. thinks that this pea looks like Rorschach from Watchmen:

What do you think?

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